For the Golden Halo: Harriet Bedell vs. Charles Wesley

2013 Golden Halo winner Frances Perkins prepares to hand over her halo

2013 Golden Halo winner Frances Perkins prepares to hand over her halo

We embarked upon this Lent Madness journey over five weeks ago on “Ash Thursday.” With your help we have whittled the field of 32 saints down to two: Harriet Bedell and Charles Wesley. Who will walk away with the coveted Golden Halo of Lent Madness 2014? Only 24 hours and your voting participation will reveal this holy mystery.

Regardless of the ultimate outcome, we’ve met some truly remarkable holy people along the way. Perhaps you learned about some folks you’d never heard of or maybe you renewed acquaintances with saints who have long offered inspiration. Of course the entire notion of placing saints in a bracket is absurd — each “contestant” has already earned a crown of righteousness in addition to a “golden halo.” But at the heart of Lent Madness is the abiding conviction that encountering those who have come before us in the faith enriches and enlivens our own walk with the risen Christ.

In the process of this whimsical Lenten devotion we’ve all made some new online friends, encountered a community of believers who take their faith but not themselves too seriously, learned some things, were inspired by saintly witnesses, and had a lot fun along the way.

Of course we literally couldn’t have done this without our stellar Celebrity Bloggers to whom we offer sincere gratitude. Amber Belldene, Laurie Brock, Megan Castellan, David Creech, Laura Darling, Robert Hendrickson, Maria Kane, Penny Nash, Heidi Shott, and David Sibley. Thanks to Bracket Czar Adam Thomas for his stellar behind-the-scenes work in keeping the bracket updated daily. And we can’t forget the ever mysterious Maple Anglican who brought us the inimitable shenanigans of Archbishops Thomas and John. You all rock!

Speaking of Maple Anglican, here's the last Archbishop's Update. But before you watch it (or after) be sure to check out some Golden Halo fashion tips from Lent Madness fan and Vogue model (seriously) Julia Frakes.

Finally, thanks to all of you who participated by voting, commenting, drinking coffee out of Lent Madness mugs, filling in brackets, talking about saints at coffee hour, liking us on Facebook or following us on Twitter, and allowing us to play a small role in your Lenten journey. We’ve loved having each one of you along for the “madness” and on behalf of the Supreme Executive Committee we wish you a blessed Holy Week and a joyous Easter.

Oh, wait, there’s one more thing before we set our face toward the Triduum. But first we should note that Heidi Shott has shepherded Harriet Bedell through the brackets while David Sibley has done the same for Charles Wesley. We've asked them for a single image and one quote. We've already heard a lot about them and from them -- click the bracket tab and scroll down to view their previous match-ups if you want to refresh your memory. And the, it's time.

The polls will be open for 24 hours and the winner will be announced at 8:00 am Eastern time on Maundy Thursday. Now go cast your vote — the 2014 Lent Madness Golden Halo hangs in the balance!

Harriet Bedell


"Measured in terms of the number of lives she has touched and brightened, the achievements of Deaconess Bedell assume monumental proportions....She probably fits into no simple category for missionaries that her church knows. She has always been a pioneer; and she has been at home in Collier County which proudly calls her its own. This humble woman of God and servant of all who come to one the impression she might go on forever, as indeed her spirit will."

-- Charlton Tebeau, Collier County historian, in "Florida's Last Frontier," 1966.

Charles Wesley


Finish, then, Thy new creation;
Pure and spotless let us be.

Let us see Thy great salvation
Perfectly restored in Thee;

Changed from glory into glory,
Till in heaven we take our place,

Till we cast our crowns before Thee,
Lost in wonder, love, and praise.


NOTE: At 10:55 p.m. EDT, the Supreme Executive Committee banned three voters and removed 41 votes from Harriet Bedell, due to voting irregularity. Remember to VOTE ONCE ONLY.

The voters in question were in Buffalo, NY; Rochester, MN; and Gulfport, MS.

Harriet Bedell vs. Charles Wesley

  • Charles Wesley (51%, 3,607 Votes)
  • Harriet Bedell (49%, 3,407 Votes)

Total Voters: 7,014

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218 comments on “For the Golden Halo: Harriet Bedell vs. Charles Wesley”

  1. Um......."ILL in heaven we take our place"......? Did someone forget to attach a "t"?

  2. Once again, I have to go with substance over sentimentality. Sorry Charles, but Harriet went beyond heavenly feelings and made the Word alive and moving in the world.

    1. Perfectly put, Ray! No comment I could make nails my feelings the way yours does. Harriet Forever!

      1. These comments forget Charles' role in the Holy Club at Oxford in the 1720's that focused on personal piety and acts of mercy: they visited prisons, weekly or more, fed the hungry, cared for the sick, and more. Charles is known for hymns, but was a servant of God first.

  3. Just based on the quote provided, I think Charles himself would have voted for Harriet - and as much as I KNOW that those who sing pray twice, so will I.

  4. Nice to watch the bishop's review but it was for 2013 - where is this year's review ?? Oops .

  5. Before you cast your vote for Charles, who is very well known and sung across denominations, think of how the GH can raise awareness of Harriet Bedell! Before LM, how many of us were unaware of her lifetime of selfless ministry among Native Americans? Harriet placed herself in the midst of those she saw who were in greatest need and became an advocate and activist for their lives and livelihoods. Just think how how you can spread her story when friends ask "Who is The Deaconess and why is she on your coffee mug?"

  6. The Deaconess. Would be hard to do what she did today in 2014. Harder still to do it when she did it

  7. What a difficult choice! I so admire Harriet for what she accomplished (and traveling in those days from Oklahoma to Alaska to Florida was no mean feat). And I love the hymns that inspire us from Charles Wesley.........especially Christ The Lord Is Risen Today. As a musician, the flip of the coin goes to Charles Wesley! This was my first brother's church "played along" and he gave me such a good tip.......have learned so much about saints known and previously unknown. Thank you!

  8. The typo notwithstanding, Charles for the Golden Halo! That smiling countenance made the difference for me.

  9. One of the two times I've seen my husband (an organist and director of music) cry was at our wedding as we sang "Love Divine, all loves excelling." If ever you are discouraged by church bureaucracy, church family fights, religious intolerance, complacency and boredom- sing this song. Whatever bad and damaging theology I've encountered these words promise and remind me of the ultimate Christian gospel -the work of God to change us all and all things from glory into glory. I bet that's what gave Harriet her vision and strength. I've voted for her most of the way but now, Thank you Charles Wesley, Go Charles!

  10. First time I've voted for Charles Wesley. The quote got me. Still, I can't think of a wrong way for this to end up. I was raised Catholic, and appreciate that background, but I've loved that Lent Madness has covered so many different ways to serve God, and I've gotten to hear stories of holiness that are different than the ones I grew up hearing (though I loved hearing about the Catholic saints, too, and voted for plenty of them.)

    1. The last close one of the season, thank goodness. I don't think I could take any more. I'm voting for Wesley this time because his hymns have had a central place and formative role in the liturgy of the Church and the devotional lives of her people since the 18th century.
      That said, I'm heartbroken that I logged on after the typo was corrected. You snooze, you lose.
      A blessed Spy Wednesday, Triduum, and Easter season to everyone. I look forward to 50 Days of Fabulous.

  11. Thanks for fixing the typo, o Tim. Go have some coffee. I recommend Bishop's Blend....

  12. Many thanks to all the good people in our 'coffee klatch' called LM. My first year, and I thoroughly enjoyed it all. I started singing in jr. choir at age 8 and realize the importance of the hymns in the development, sustenance and comfort or joy in the spiritual journey of all of us. Charles
    has won my vote for the golden halo.

  13. Despite the considerable conflict in my family over this final round, I have not only voted for Harriet but have begun an icon in her honor. She will have a golden halo.

      1. Verdery - thank you for introducing me to Lent Madness. It has been one of the most refreshing Lent seasons ever for me to read and reflect on the lives of these saints who preceded us in the Church Militant. OH, but having to vote? It's like having a General Election every day..... I'lll sing with St Charles over Good Friday and Easter.... see if the Golden Halo will light up my home country....

  14. Toughest choice ever! but as a deacon, I vote for Harriet today. Charles has received many tributes and accolades over the years. Harriet quietly went about her work bringing Christ to the world and the needs of the world to the church. This has been a wonderful Lent Madness, can't wait for next year!!!!!

    1. As an Episcopal deacon myself, I voted for Harriet for basically the same reasons. I do love the hymns Charles wrote, and had voted for him all through the brackets, but that picture of him comfortably writing with his dog was quite a contrast with the conditions Harriet endured in her work. I am so grateful to LM for teaching me about Harriet! Still this was by far the most difficult choice yet. I wish LM had a "Both" option, and that we could have twin golden halos this year!

  15. A Vote for all Deaconesses, with a Vote for Harriet Bedell , in Memory of Sister Ruby, 1879-1974, New Haven, Connecticut, she and Harriet could be Doubles! A Golden Halo for Harriet !

  16. Charles braved coming to the Georgia Colony and being priest to philandering colony founder General Oglethorpe, calling him out for his sinful life and even survived attacks by other not so willing church goers on Saint Simons Island before his retreat to England. He had his "conversion" a few days before his brother John's and was instrumental in the establishment of the renewal movement in the Church of England that is known worldwide as Methodism. His hymns helped convey this head/heart theology through familiar secular tunes to the masses who were simple fodder for the Industrial Revolution in England. Historians give credit to the Wesley brothers and Methodism for preventing a violent revolution on England like the one in France. Not bad for just a "hymn writer!"

    1. Harriet did get my vote this time, but thank you for the write up, Ivan. It's beautiful. I'll be proud to use a Charles mug if he is the final for this year's Golden Halo.

    2. I was vacillating, Ivan, and you just reminded me of how much a social revolutionary Charles was. As a pointed out yesterday, his Methodist descendants were formidable advocates for the Cherokees in Georgia, even taking a case to the US Supreme Court. But truth is, he had me at "Love Divine." I also love the synthesis of head and heart his music and theology represents. This will also be a vote for ecumenism, as Methodists and Episcopalians and Anglicans will all claim him.

  17. Even though I love singing CW's hymns, I am lost in wonder, love, and praise for the work and character of Harriet Bedell.

  18. Charles, your words have sustained me. Harriet, your actions have inspired me and perhaps redefined what " mission " means to the church at large. Could Harriet have been inspired by Charles' words?

  19. Being a once-musician-and-now-a-priest type person, my heart goes out to Harriet, but my vote goes to Charles. His hymnody is wondrous and there's nothing quite like "Love divine" set to Hyfrydol to get my heart stirring!

  20. Whoever wins, I have learned so much about so many remarkable people. A true inspiration for all of us. I will miss my morning study!

    1. I love it, too. I've found the Forward Day by Day web site is a different but still meaningful source of daily inspiration with its short essays, bios of holy persons, and Bible readings. And during Easter, Fifty Days of Fabulous is another good way to start the morning. But there's nothing quite like Lent Madness and the minds and souls it brings together. Bless one and all.

  21. Harriet Bedell all the way: 1982 Hymnal outdated long ago. It is all about mission and outreach.

    1. The Wesleys, both Charles and John were all about mission and outreach.

      A charge to keep I have,
      A God to glorify,
      A never-dying soul to save,
      And fit it for the sky.

      To serve the present age,
      My calling to fulfill:
      O may it all my powers engage
      To do my master’s will!

      Arm me with jealous care,
      As in Thy sight to live;
      And O Thy servant, Lord, prepare
      A strict account to give!

      Help me to watch and pray,
      And on Thyself rely,
      Assured, if I my trust betray,
      I shall for ever die.